This week I’m trying out a new format. I’m breaking the comics into three categories: The Darn-Tootin’ Best, the Pretty Super Greats, and the Maybe/Maybe-Nots. (Category titles subject to change on a whim because that’s just how I roll.) This way, you’ll know right away what I think you need to read so if you’re in a hurry or have no attention span, things will be a little easier for you. Then when you have more time or have had less caffeine so you can actually get your eyes to focus, you can come back and read the rest. And you’d better read the rest because I’m watching you, Wazowski. Alwayyyss watching.
Random thought: there’s this trend I’ve noticed lately that has no relevance to anything, but almost every comic I’ve read recently has had someone with an undercut in it. This week was no exception. I think Ninjak was the only one that didn’t.
The Darn-Tootin’ Best
The Surface #1
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Ales Kot
Artists/Cover Artists: Langdon Foss and Jordie Bellaire
The Surface is so scarily like my brain, I don’t know whether to love it or run away screaming. Just kidding, I totally love it. The first couple of pages immediately hooked me, I’m so fond of the philosophical questions like, “When you cry at night, who do you cry for? Why?” What a killer opening. Not to mention the big stone thingerjig, which is very reminiscent of the slab in 2001: A Space Odyssey combined with heavy yonic/phallic symbolism (I got the word yonic by looking up the female equivalent of phallic symbolism and that was the best response I got, so I hope I’m using it right. I also have a lot of thoughts about how hard it was to find any sort of term related to vaginal symbolism, but we can talk about that later). Anyhow, this comic jumps all over the place, with articles and interviews interspersed throughout the story and little cryptic messages written at the bottom of pages and I’m just so all about that. It’s perfect for my slightly antsy, hyper reading style. Also, huge props to the writers for all of the cultural relevance in The Surface. From commenting on our society’s obsession with privacy and social media to ending an article with, “Swipe right to continue reading,” this comic expertly captures a generation of people raised on the internet and questions what impact that will have on our futures. There’s a great panel where the president is listening to several news blurbs at once and the blurbs are hilarious. Read them all. I’m really excited about this comic. It’s like someone looked into my head as I was trying to fall asleep and just splashed the most interesting stuff bouncing around in there onto a page. I also wish that I got to wear a hat with a crazy looking squirrel on it at my barista job, but instead I just get a green apron.
Casanova: Acedia #2
Publisher: Image Comics
Writers: Matt Fraction and Michael Chabon
Artists/Cover Artists: Fábio Moon and Gabriel Ba
Casanova: Acedia is pretty and funny and clever and phenomenal. This issue we get a glimpse into Mr. Boutique’s past, as well as a glimpse into Casanova’s sassy, impatient side. Casanova is not super happy about almost being killed a few times last issue and decides that it’s high time to get some answers, even if he can’t get them from Boutique. This causes him to run into some very interesting characters, including an Irish cop who yells, “Abraca-fooking-dabbra, boyo,” after apprehending a crooked magician. While Casanova is full of charm and often able to use it fully to his advantage, he soon discovers that being suave is not really going to help him against demons. Like The Surface, Casanova: Acedia #2 is full of little details that take it from great to exceptional. My favorite one of these is the police officer reading Dune at the police station. I’m a sucker for literary references. The color palate also continues to be the best ever. Everything about Casanova: Acedia feels full of life and adventure. Keep reading until the very last page because the awesomeness doesn’t stop. (If that wasn’t enough of a hint for you, my favorite little gem of this issue is at the end, so do not miss it! It’s kind of like the thing after the credits, except it’s not the epitome of disappointing *cough* Howard the Duck *cough*.)
The Pretty Super Greats
Help Us! Great Warrior #2
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Writer/Artist: Madéleine Flores
Cover Artist: Ariel Ries
Help Us! Great Warrior #2 didn’t make it into the top category this week because it felt a little slower and a little less adorable than the first one. It was still really cute and the villagers are absolutely precious, but it was missing a bit of Great Warrior va-va-voom. I’m not in the least bit disheartened, however, because every comic needs some time to scene set and that’s exactly what this issue is doing. It gets us ready for the issues to come and I am confident that all the charm and hilarity will return! There are still some great moments, so read Help Us! Great Warrior #2! After all, it is one of the Pretty Super Greats.
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Writer: Matt Kindt
Artists: Clay Mann and Butch Guice
Cover Artist: Lewis LaRosa
This issue has cleared up the mystery of why Ninjak is called Ninjak. I’m sure many of you already knew this, but I somehow missed the boat on that one and kept thinking things like, “Is his name Jack? And when he’s a ninja he doesn’t like C’s? Was ninja just too mainstream? Maybe the K sound accompanies some cool move like a finger snap-and-point?” Now I know that he’s just the 11th ninja in his little ninja group. Ninja-K. It all makes so much sense now. I like the bits of backstory throughout this comic. I always appreciate back stories because they really do give a better idea of why the main character is doing what he’s doing. I also don’t particularly mind seeing buff Colin in a tight, short wolf t-shirt. Speaking of clothing, what on earth is going on with the toilet-paper, mummy wrap Roku is wearing? Ninjak is told that Roku isn’t wearing any clothes or carrying any weapons so she just has her body to fight with, but if that’s the case, why not just go in her birthday suit? I’m sure all those loopy strands are not easy to keep in place. What if she trips? What if her hair gets tangled in the flappy ends of her mummy garb? It would be so easy for one to wrap around her neck and choke her! Clothes or no clothes, girl! Make the choice! Poor outfit choices aside, I really enjoyed Ninjak #1. It sets the stage for an interesting story of evil overlords, weaponized hair, and, of course, ninjas.
The Ones Where I’m Like That Kid in Jurassic Park Who Can’t Decide Whether to Get Electrocuted or Jump (Get it? I’m on the fence, lolz.)
Southern Cross #1
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Becky Cloonan
Artist: Andy Belanger
Cover Artist: Becky Cloonan
I didn’t hate any titles this week, there are just a couple I’m not so sure about. Southern Cross was another one of those comics that I wanted so badly to like, but it just didn’t do much for me. There was nothing particularly wrong with it, there just also wasn’t anything that stood out for me. Well, I did really like Alex’s hair, but that’s not exactly something that’s going to keep me reading a series. I was especially sad because this one is right up my alley, with the sci-fi and mysterious death and what not. The two things that most irked me about Southern Cross were the pacing and the colors. There is a lot of set up time in this issue and it took too long for me to start feeling sympathetic for Alex. By the time I had enough information to really understand her behavior, I had already subconsciously decided I didn’t like her. Not that every comic needs to have a likeable main character, but none of the other characters caught my interest either. The colors are very dark and flat and combined with the slow-paced story, the greys and blues seemed to drag me along instead of moving things forward. Southern Cross had an air of melancholy that just made me feel sad instead of intrigued or touched.
Bill & Ted’s Most Triumphant Return #1
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Writers: Brian Lynch and Ryan North
Artists: Jerry Gaylord and Ian McGinty
Cover Artists: Felipe Smith and Rob Guillory
Bill & Ted’s Most Triumphant Return was a bit less excellent and more bogus than I had hoped. It wasn’t terrible, but it kind of felt like the writers grabbed what was good about the movies, cobbled it all together in a mish-mash, and printed it as a comic. That being said, I LOVED the short story at the end by Ryan North and Ian McGinty. This backup story was everything I had hoped the main story would be. Robot Bill and Ted get a virus from an email so human Bill and Ted take them to 2015 to get ‘future’ technology help. Just like in Squirrel Girl, there are little snarky comics written in the margins of these pages and the whole thing is absolutely hilarious. It made the entire book worth it for me. The art is bright and engaging and the story is incredibly clever in its ridiculousness. So maybe skip the main part of Bill & Ted, but read the backup story! It is most righteous and definitely non-bogus.